“I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted, they travel about as far as we do.” – John Muir, Scottish-American naturalist.
Though I may be hard pressed to say that every tree I see and draw is completely content (as of course, we embue them with having feelings:) … I do have a sense that no matter their state, the trees exude a rootedness, dare I say confidence, in where they are and what they have endured.
Even the tree at the entrance to our neighborhood stands tall and proud, waving the beautifully brittle leaves of last year which have hung on through the winter. This tree has a large open wound on one side that makes you wince. But from the other side, you would never know this wound is there. Perhaps this lack of discontent, as Muir notes, is due precisely to the gripped rootedness which pulls its life force from the earth and refuses to give up no matter what it has lost.
I see so many trees in and around our neighborhood which have suffered loss and yet still thrive. If you’ve been following my 365 day journey of drawing a tree a day, you will have seen numerous trees in various states of injury. There are many more to draw and I think this is becoming a fascination…the compelling reality that no matter how trimmed, cut off, torn in two or broken a tree is, there is still life pulsing through its veins and proclaiming, “I am here!”
What we do not see, and therefore I do not draw, is the extensive root system of any given tree. To be sure, I often see and draw the one or two roots which erosion has exposed. But beneath the soil, reaching far deeper and wider than we fathom, a massive subway system grounds the tree in its place and brings it the energy and nutrients it needs to survive and flourish.
I often fail to recognize this rootedness in my own life. But when I see it, I marvel at the connectedness to so many people, to a community, a church family, creative friends, and to my own immediate and extended family. I am filled with gratitude for the rich soil of faith which upholds it all and gives vitality and strength no matter the evident brokenness above ground.
Today as I draw, I’ll sink into my own roots a bit more, and lift up branch-like arms and hands in gratitude for all that holds me fast. 💖
7 thoughts on “Rooted”
This is a beautiful expression of a deep reality “pruning”. Killing to bring life!
Not exactly “Killing”. More like pruning away the dead and parasitic to create a refreshed/renewed life. The work of an arborist or nature can be gentle or drastic. Is there a scarred side to everything?
Thanks dad! I understand what you mean. Seems we are all experiencing some pruning lately.
Keep lifting your beautiful branch-like arms!
THank you honey!
I’m enjoying your tree series a lot (and your blog). A must read if you love trees: The Overstory by Richard Powers . It’s a long read – but life/mind/heart changing!
Oh thank you for this reference and something I will surely enjoy! I appr I ate your visits here Denise! -Jennifer